By Kingsley Nwezeh
Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, has assured Nigerians that the Nigerian Navy would continue to maintain existing relationships with its partners and work on the same trajectory towards sustaining the gains recorded in securing the Gulf of Guinea.
He stated this while playing host to the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefano Pontesilli, who paid him a courtesy visit at the naval headquarters.
The CNS stated that there was close collaboration between the Gulf of Guinea region navies towards stemming the tide of recent incidences of insecurity in the region.
He further disclosed that the Nigerian Navy had in the last four years reduced the incidences of illegalities, maritime insecurity and piracy in the Nigerian maritime space and within the Gulf of Guinea, as efforts have also been intensified towards checking these crimes with positive results.
Vice Admiral Ibas submitted that the cooperation of international partners through exercises like the recently concluded Exercise GRAND AFRICAN NEMO would go a long way in further improving the safety of the region’s maritime environment as well as boost economic activities.
The CNS also assured the ambassador that the Nigerian Navy was open to exploring other avenues in the areas of training and capacity building for its sailors in hydrography as well as technical expertise in the operationalisation and maintenance of the Leonardo helicopter.
Speaking earlier, the Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Pontesilli, stated that he was at the naval headquarters to introduce the new Italian Defence Attaché to Nigeria, Colonel Michele Devastato, to the CNS.
He stated that Italy was favourably disposed to further cooperation with the Gulf of Guinea in anti-trafficking and maritime security operations.
According to the ambassador, the visit was also to intimate the CNS of the successful completion of Exercise GRAND AFRICAN NEMO, and that the participating European frigates were currently docking in Tema, Ghana.
He added that the frigates would be moving back to the sea in the Gulf of Guinea and remaining there till the middle of December in order to consolidate on the successes of the recently concluded exercise.